Homeschooling: a Model to see Revival become Reform

How we educate the next generation the greatest factor in shaping our future.

Homeschooling as a model to see Revival become Reform

As colleges and universities across the USA and Canada rejoice over revival1, many people remain skeptical for fear that this stirring will turn out to be just another over-sensational experience that doesn’t transform into substantive obedience to God.

Questioning these different events is normal because most of us have lived long enough to see ‘fires’ dwindle, ‘callings’ fade, and ‘conversions’ lack repentance. The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matt 26:41). And so we’ve seen ‘the sprit’ of many things die; such as prayer, witnessing, and faithfulness to Christ. After visiting the Asbury campus for myself, and seeing the genuine repentance and desire to seek God during the ongoing worship service, I am hopeful that this revival is sincere. However, because I live in Kentucky now, I will continue to visit the campus after the dust settles to ask: How does personal devotion to the Lord turn into institutional change? How does revival turn into reform?

Tim Tysoe and I recently talked about this topic on our podcast, The Other Club. How does revival turn into reform? Here it is: Christians need to turn godly desires into an applied, structural, and systematic Biblical worldview to produce the lasting fruit of obedience to God. Christians need to practically overcome internal and external obstacles that impede growth. This is true for institutions such as Asbury University: extended, passionate worship must lead to policy corrections. This is true for the government and church, where both continuously need principled changes. And, this is also true of the family.

This answer reminded my about the strengths of homeschooling. The Biblical and practical actions homeschooling-families take is a model for producing these kinds of outcomes. This article will demonstrate how simply homeschooling helps to achieve an applied, systematic, and structured worldview; and how it overcomes barriers to growth.

Homeschooling Allows Families to Achieve A Systematic and Structured Worldview

1. By Recognizing and Utilizing the Formal and Informal Discipleship that Occurs in The Home

Informal discipleship occurs because God has designed the situations of our very existence, within the situations of the natural world, to be one of his tools to conform our lives to the likeness of Christ. Homeschooling facilitates a walk along, talk along, and bring along style of learning, which recognizes and harnesses the creational nature of education given to the family (Get. 1:28)

Homeschooling correctly places real responsibility on parents to do their job as Deuteronomy prescribes (Deut 6:4-9). Pastors often recognize the need for parents’ responsibility, but there is often very little pastoral planning to help them achieve this goal. That’s because much of informal discipleship should occur in the home by design. Pastors can’t plan it, but the informal discipleship aspects of the homeschooling family can plan for it. It is the ‘follower- ship’ nature of the home where parents involve their children in their own lives that is so powerful. The family naturally provides an apprenticeship setting. Life is the context for discipleship.

The homeschooling family sets expectations for adults to serve and take their children to serve alongside them in ministry. Service-oriented ministries can be planned and executed quite easily by intentional family. These situations often end up being very community-oriented, and intergenerational. While children serve with parents, they often serve alongside other adults


Homeschooling as a model to see Revival become Reform

who are cooperating with the family. It is accepted and encouraged that the homeschooling environment will facilitate other mentoring opportunities. This is also positive because it allows for the elders of the church to evaluate and support parents as they watch how the parents interact with their children during these informal times.

Formal discipleship occurs when we come together as a group for learning, worship, to study God’s Word, or to pray in His Spirit. Homeschooling rightly sees a merger between education and the formal discipleship for the Christian child. This conclusion leads families to execute a hybrid application of many well-established reformed schooling ideas that take seriously the role of the parent and the foundation of scripture combined with learning logic, rhetoric, and arithmetic. In this model, most formal aspects of training are done during the day . This allows families to achieve formal discipleship regularly and conveniently, while other non- homeschooling families have to find time sporadically in the evening and or on the weekend.

The family and church must rebalance what it means by the words “diet” and “supplement” in regards to children’s and young adult ministries. Homeschoolers agree that the church family should be an intergenerational faith-family who engage with children and young adults, but we reject the idea that children need to be separated from parents during key times of congregational learning. Therefore, a normal homeschooling weekly schedule reflects these expectations by making the home’s formal work the “diet” and the churches activities for children a secondary “supplement”. These churches who support these families emphasize catechizing and giving parents ideas about worshipping at home.

At the beginning of my pastoral ministry, I did not understand how fundamental the difference between educational models. I did not understand how much the church needed to establish a philosophy of ministry that includes home education in order for them to realize structural goals. However, it has become clear that the combination of informal and formal discipline in the home results in a method of training that is greatly beneficial to the great life of the church. So much of this is achieved in the family when the family organizes and the church utilizes the family rather than overlooking it.

2. By Agreeing and Acknowledging that Fathers Are a Central Part of the Discipleship Equation

In their theological reflections, pastoral descriptions of church life, and overall concerns, pastors regularly share a common vision to see men more engaged with the discipleship of their children. Even though many pastors may not yet have established, consistent methods, we share a common desire to encourage men, and share a common vision to solve the current absentee-father crisis. Homeschooling engages fathers in the discipleship/educational process in a manner unrivaled by any other ministry model.

Fathers are often recognized by leaders as the most important figures for the discipleship of the family in two ways: First, elders understand the ontology of a father. By nature, God has created the husband to be a certain person and to have a certain function within the family unit, the church, and society. God explicitly gave men certain exhortations to be the head of the home. Second, pastors suggest that fathers are significant in practical ways during the discipleship process.

Regarding the nature and responsibility of a man, one pastor has said, “The father is ultimately responsible for the leadership of his family and the teaching of his family.” Another has described the husband with his own personal experience in mind, “I hope that the church is a bit of a reflection of what I have tried to be as a father and a family leader.”

Homeschooling as a model to see Revival become Reform

With regards to practical aspects, one pastor interviewed built on Puritan theology, “The Puritans spoke that way and talked that way. Within that context of the family I think there is, I think God has appointed a spiritual leader of that tiny little sort of church or a congregation, if you want to put it in those sort of terms. I think the husband, father, man in that setting is called to be the one who would initiate, engage and do the work of that discipling.”

As principle or teacher, fathers get involved with their children’s lives on a more frequent basis than when they send the children away to be mentored and coached by others.

3. By Agreeing and Acknowledging the Important Role of Motherhood

Duane Garrett remarks that Proverbs “does not begin its instruction with lofty or abstract analysis, but from the very outset the book is grounded in the lives and problems of real people” (Garrett 1993, 69). Prov 1:8 reads, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” This proverb casts the primary context for childhood and adolescent character development within the central framework of the parent-child relationship. Similar to the fifth commandment, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exod 20:12), which Paul reminds us is the only command to come with a promise (Eph 6:2), wisdom literature calls young men and women to submit to the instructions of their parents with honor and respect as a matter of maturation.

Having addressed fatherhood, we turn now to motherhood. Something happens within the life of the child or young adult when they learn to obey the wise callings and promptings of their mothers. Like when a rag is wrung out of its filthy water, or when rotten potatoes get sorted out of the bushel, folly is driven away by the discipline of a relentless mother who will not permit her children to spurn her authority. According to proverbial wisdom, there are five key figures who have authority to discipline: (1) The Lord, (2) father, (3) mother, (4) advisers, and (5) the king.

Mothers are, in general, the fundamental attachment-figure for children. Their relationship is quite influential and important to children. Mothers who mother produce sons who value women and daughters who value motherhood. Thus, a mother needs to intentionally yield room in her routine so that her children can participate with her in the matters of life.

4. By Integrating our Christian Presuppositions into all Subjects

Historically Protestant-Reformed denominations such as Lutherans, Reformed-Baptists, and Christian-Reformed Churches used education as a tool for this kind of discipleship because education investigates and integrates Christian Presuppositions, such as the authority and infallibility of scripture, into all subjects. However, Answers in Genesis and other apologetic movements have risen up to address a broader audience with the expectation that discipleship should be interwoven with the physical subjects of education.

Ken Ham observes that, “The church gave up the earthly things (e.g. the biological, anthropological, astronomical, geological, and historical) and focused only on heavenly things (spiritual matters, relationships, the gospel). Where do you go to learn about geology, astronomy, biology, and anthropology? The answer is always ‘school.’ Ninety percent of children from church homes attend public/government schools” (Ham 2012, 48).

Homeschooling as a model to see Revival become Reform

Ham and others also struggle with the lack of apologetic depth in Sunday school materials and the lack of time given to cement the core beliefs of scripture. “This leaves children vulnerable to rhetorical and critical attack” (Ham 2012, 48). If we don’t think about these physical and creational realities in relation to God, then we don’t talk about them in relation to God; and then we are swept away by those who claim authority in the place of God.

Thomas Whittaker identified this issue as far back as 1891. His views sought to increase education because, “One hour, at most, in the Sunday school, and at least thirty hours in the week in the secular school. Fifty-two hours in the year in the Sunday school [is] a little more than an ordinary school week. What is the comparison of influence between the two” (Whittaker 1891, 97)?

Home educators are uniquely positioned to reengage the scriptures in all these areas. Home schooling allows us to avoid secular school boards, Christian schools drifting left, while using robust Christian-worldview curriculums that take these physical disciplines seriously in relation to our faith in Christ. A Christian worldview training that integrates history, Bible, science, and art in a way that is glorifying to God and robust is truly advantageous to the child.

Homeschooling Allows Us to OvercomeThose Things That Stand in our Way

“Drivers” are those things that motivate Christians to be active towards a goal. This term concisely describes all of the cultural and contextual situations that influence parents and pastors. They are the theories that ‘drive’ us. In this context, they are the hopes and expectations that drive us to empower the family and give it focus, training, and resourcing. We have addressed a number of ways homeschooling fulfills those things driving us.

“Barriers” are inhibitors to growth. These can be found within the man or woman, or institutionally, within the church. They are the cultural and contextual situations that deter parents and pastors from action. Homeschooling helps overcome these barriers.

1. By Overcoming Conflicting Ministry Purposes

The home educator makes a clear separation between discipleship and evangelism with regards to the programs, classes, and events we offer to children and young adults. Many churches confuse these things so that discipleship is watered down and ineffective.
Likewise, Sunday mornings and day-time education are discipleship, serving with parents to do ministry is discipleship, and living in community with the other generations is discipleship. In all these areas, the homeschooler do not design life with “seekers” as the target, rather they specifically equip children and young adults with apologetic training in order for them to go out into the real world to reach the lost.

2. By Overcoming False-assumptions of Children and Young Adults

As evidenced by many of the works reviewed concerning children’s spiritual formation, it is clear that we as the body of Christ have lowered the bar of obedience and self-discipline to dangerously low levels. This in part because we have placed far too much emphasis on psychological theory.

One of the homeschoolers strengths is setting a higher standard, and seeing children and young adults achieve higher results. Once peer influences are put in check, children and

Homeschooling as a model to see Revival become Reform

students are far more willing to grow under the authority of their parents and in step with the passion of their parents and other adults. We argue that children can handle far more than we give them credit for. Simple entertainment and peer-dependent youth ministries do not lead the next generation into personal piety or practical devotion. As homeschoolers systematically raise the bar for children and young adults, honoring them for success and correcting laziness and selfishness, we see fruit that others do not see.

3. Overcoming Time Constraints

Time management is a key problem for spiritual formation. Homeschoolers have the unique and powerful ability to overcome this obstacle. When parents do more things during the day with their children they do not need to so overwhelmed with activity. By considering the relationship between Christian education and formal discipleship, homeschoolers are able to overcome the business and inefficiency of involving children with every kind of extra-curricular and church activity in the evening while at the same time overcoming the lack of parental involvement in the local school system.

As already presented, time management was one of the major barriers for pastors. It is a struggle to call people to be engaged in critical discipleship materials while focusing on outreach as well. Thus, most of these churches had a traditional Sunday school and mid-week program to offer formal discipleship which targeted Christian children and non-Christian children at the same time. They promoted techniques for children’s ministry and youth ministry where church- kids were the participants of evangelistic events so they would bring their non- Christian friends to hear the gospel.

Many pastors have revealed that time was a barrier for people to do effective disciplining or to be involved in church life. These has come up to me in various descriptions. One pastor said, “Well everyone says they do not have time. We do live busy lives in our context. Even in rural cottage country we do live busy lives.” Another said, “So we are finding if we throw an event we get a very minimal response just because people are busy and there is so much competition.” Another shared, “I realized, to that our Chinese families, who are very busy professionals were carving out time to bring their kids to church every Sunday, it is very intentional.” During a discussion on the limitations of the parents, one pastor observed that good discipleship requires the time to execute certain requirements. He was concerned that where parents didn’t want to take the time, the church would be required to step in.

Time is a real concern. Home educating not only addresses, but solves the time barrier.


Through the ongoing work of God to perfect and train up mom and dad as they parent the next generation, God does a wonderful thing in the child in very practical ways. These Biblical and practical actions for homeschooling-families constitute a model for producing long lasting fruit. Homeschooling helps achieve an applied, systematic, and structured worldview; and it overcomes barriers to a healthy home discipleship environment.

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About the author

Rev. Dr. Michael Thiessen holds a D. Min from Trinity Evangelical Divinity school where his research focused on generational faith-retention in the church. He a co-founder and CEO of the Liberty Coalition Canada, the fellow for Church and Family Discipleship at the Ezra Institute, and a teaching pastor at Royal Spring Chapel in Georgetown, Kentucky.